Two Historic Motels Resurrected These California Gold Rush Cities

Entering room 1 in Holbrooke Hotel is like going back in time. The full-size king suite features a restored vintage sofa and chairs, an original marble fireplace with decorative logs, polished hardwood floors, plush carpeting, and contemporary furnishings like a vintage rotary phone—and, in the bathroom, the original one , meticulously restored clawfoot tub. Two pedestal sinks, gold fixtures and a huge king-size bed bring the room somewhat 21st century, as does a huge alfresco veranda overlooking Grass Valley, California’s scenic Main Street. Though many places like to claim this sort of time travel ability, the Holbrooke’s building actually dates back to 1862, so despite its recent renovation, you can still feel the ghosts of the gold rush era rattling through its walls at night.

Just a few miles away, in Nevada City, is the sister property National Stock Exchange has been similarly restored and similarly laden with whispers of the past. While it is rare to find this style of Victorian-era architecture in California, it is by no means impossible. Many of the early West Coast buildings from the 1850s and 1860s were simply destroyed and rebuilt as more modern building techniques became available, but just outside of Sacramento, these two historic hotels were rescued from the abyss and lovingly restored by the Santa Barbara-based company Acme Hospitality.

In the process, these hotels have helped transform the former gold rush towns in which they are based into destinations for those wanting to get away from Sacramento or San Francisco for the weekend, or idyllic getaways for more ambitious SoCal travelers. While grass valley And Nevada city California might not make the list of California hot spots today, but in the 1860s these cities weren’t just booming, they were the center of it all. As many eager immigrants headed west to try their luck in the mines, and the mine owners and other more affluent residents needed infrastructure, a bank and housing, hotels sprang up in the respective towns to meet the needs of each group.

First came the National exchange hotel, a sprawling building that has undergone a thorough renovation over the past three years. The original structure dates back to 1856 and the rooms have been slightly modified to include ensuite bathrooms, the requisite modern plumbing and electricity. Given these limitations, the National Exchange now offers 38 guest rooms, each with a slightly different layout and decor, and many as large suites. As the name suggests, this hotel offered both upscale accommodation and a bank; It was also the local bar, telegraph office, stagecoach stop and post office, as well as a center of gravity for a town that was the most heavily populated of the gold rush camps.

National exchange hotel

Grass Valley nearby was slowly but surely emerging as another hub catering to the workers and actual miners in the area. A few years later the 28 rooms Holbrooke Hotel opened in 1862 to meet the needs of this slightly different but important community in the area. Given their geographic proximity and historical similarity, it made sense to bring the hotels together to tell the story of this overlooked area of ​​Northern California and offer visitors not just one, but two places to stay and enjoy good, strong drinks and world-class food. The entire ground floor of each hotel has been redesigned to serve as a hub for each township.

At Holbrooke, the Golden Gate Salon serves classic cocktails, an extensive wine and beer list, and chef Zachary Arenholtz’s ambitious cured meats, alongside other imaginative dishes like smoked chicken wings, pozole, queso fundido, and a churro and ice cream sandwich for dessert. Down in the basement, the talk bar only on weekends The Iron Door, is a great boozy hangout in a basement room that’s rumored to have been the former brothel. About 10 minutes away, on the National Exchange, is a restaurant called Lola Dining is the anchor of Nevada City’s dining scene. Chef Alan Gosker works in a warm, contemporary American milieu that alludes to his own Irish heritage with dishes like a lamb shank risotto with peas, mint and feta. Regardless, the National Bar is a type of pub that brings the whole community together.

Like the Holbrooke, the spacious suites at the National Exchange have been furnished with antique furniture, all sourced and selected by a design and decorating team consisting of a Director of Design Anne L’EsperanceDoug Washington from Doug Washington designAnd Bri Ingram. This trio also credits “contributions from dozens of local artisans and craftsmen” to bring both local and vintage accents to each of the properties. Both hotels received historic recognition and protection decades ago when the Holbrooke was designated a California State Landmark in 1974 and the National Exchange was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Only in the last three years have these buildings lived up to their status and balance of preservation and modernization, however, sets them apart from both big-box hotels and newer boutique properties.

If you’re in the area for a few days, a few local attractions to explore are the leisurely Buttermilk Bend wildflower hike in South Yuba River State Park and a bevy of bookstores in Nevada City – Harmony Books and Main Street Antiques & books – along with the local cheese shop, Dedrick’s cheese. (It may be in the middle of nowhere, but Dedrick’s carries La Tur, making it civilized in my book). Other local shops Kitkitdizzi And fur trader sell the kind of witchy tchotchkes and stylized Western clothing that would help an outsider to blend in right away, and both do so at prices more reasonable than you’d expect in a resort town.

If you’re flying into or driving up from Sacramento, be sure to stop at Pour Choice Maroon, a local cafe, cafe and taproom in Auburn, another historic town on the way. With a little help from her friend and co-owner, a Michelin-starred chef, Chef Chris BarnumJordan and Melinda Minyard have carved out a little slice of foodie heaven in a city that has little else to offer — but the bright spot of being in a deserted neighborhood has its perks, and if you want to break the journey, this is it the obvious place to refuel.

That’s the highbrow option, of course. The easy option that is more suitable for getting out of town is to go into town Squeeze burgers, a burger joint at a nearby gas station kiosk, and grab a cheese burger with a “cheese skirt” — a ring of toasted cheese surrounding the burger making this farewell even more decadent — plus some onion rings before heading home. Everything is allowed in the north. And it may not be Victorian, but this local fast-food hit is a reminder that Northern California is a destination all of its own. Whether you think you know the area well or not, there’s always something more to discover.

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